Jane Austen, legend has it, was continually interrupted by visitors while she sat in her family’s living room secretly writing the novels that would make her famous. Most of us, though, probably wouldn’t do our best work in that setting.

“Now it’s a fact. A team of researchers at George Mason University has found that people who are interrupted while writing end up producing lower-quality essays than writers who are allowed to work undisturbed. Researchers have known for a while that interruptions inhibit our ability to carry out many tasks—from detecting traffic signals to performing surgery. This study is unique, though, in looking at—and quantifying—how distractions affect the caliber of creative work.

Read more at The New Republic.

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